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CRIMINOLOGY THEORIES

One of the major forms of research conducted by criminologists is searching for and analyzing information in published materials. These materials include
�peer-reviewed journal articles (articles published in academic journals)
�government documents (reports such as those published by the National Institute of Justice [NIJ], FBI, etc.)
�mass media reports (articles in major newspapers [The New York Times, The Washington Post, etc.] and electronic media outlets [ABC, Fox, CNN, etc.])

Each of these kinds of information sources has its strengths and weaknesses. Depending on the kind of research a criminologist is conducting, one of these may prove more useful than the others.

CRIMINOLOGY THEORIES

            Criminology is a broad thematic area that discusses different aspects of criminal behaviors and actions within the society. Some of the aspects studies within this discipline include nature, causes, prevention and results of criminal activities. To understand this discipline, various criminology theories have been developed over time in peer-reviewed articles, government documents, and mass media reports. This paper seeks to analyze different criminal theories based on different source materials.

Conradt, C. (2012). Online auction fraud and criminological theories: The Adrian Ghighina case. International Journal of Cyber Criminology (IJCC), Vol. 6 (1): 912–923

This journal explores the differential reinforcement theory, social learning theory, rational choice theory and routine activities theory to discuss cyber crime using the Adrian Ghighina’s case study. The author seeks to identify and analyze the causes and motivation of different offenders who engage in online and cyber crimes. The article establishes the need for multi-faceted approaches such as public awareness and education, crime detection, domestic and international law cooperation, among others as a preventive measure. This resource has a major strength in that it combines several theories to analyze a single study, thus giving different approaches to a single crime for easy understanding.

Agnew, R. (2001). Building on the foundation of general strain theory: Specifying the types of strain most likely to lead to crime and delinquency. Journal of research in crime and delinquency, Vol. 38 (4): 319-361.

This journal focuses on General Strain Theory (GST) which examines how strain affects crime. It describes characteristics of different straining events or conditions, and how they are related to crimes. Strains increase negative emotions like frustration and anger that are expressed through corrective actions such as crime. Crime in this context is a way of reducing strains, alleviating emotions or pure revenge. To address crime one needs to know the underlying factors. This article discusses in depth GST as one of criminology theories. However, it is inadequate in providing case studies on linking GST to real life situations.

Nwalozie, C. (2015). Rethinking subculture and sub-cultural theory in the study of youth crime: A theoretical discourse. Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical Criminology, Vol. 7: 1-16

This article establishes that criminology is a factor of culture and subcultures. It is based on the 1960s and 1970s researches by Anglo-American criminologists and sociologists. To illustrate, the articles establishes that urban youth subculture is contrary to the prevailing societal culture, and it is associated with criminal expressions such as music, dressing, tattoo, vulgar language, among others. However, this study proposes a modern rethinking of subcultures and sub-cultural theories and divergence from the benchmark set by the criminologists of the 1960s and 1970s. This journal has the strength of presenting updated information on subculture and sub-cultural theory, and the need to change the attitude towards it.

Sherman, L. et al. (Eds) (1998). Preventing crime: What works, what doesn’t, what’s promising. Report to the US Congress by National Institute of Justice.

In this policy brief, the authors conceptualize the crime patterns in the US and considers what is working, not working and what is potential in the crime prevention. The policy is based on a deep study by the National Institute of Justice on different categories of criminals ranging from infants, students, community to prison drug addicts. Based on this information, the study conducts a scientific research to explore different correlations between crime and offending group. One of the major strengths of this policy brief is the scientific approach that is based on clear data and investigations. The results are also validated for different age groups. It also presents practical approaches to crime prevention based on clear research.

Australia Government (2015). Crime prevention approaches, theory, and mechanisms. Canberra ACT: Australian Institute of Criminology

In this report, the Australian government explores various ways and approaches and theories of crime prevention. Some of the approaches discussed in the paper include the environmental approach that links crime to the immediate environment of the individual. Crimes ought to be understood within the environmental context where they occur.  Modification of the situation and environment in which the crimes occur can reduce the occurrence of crimes. The situational approach considers the social and economic factors behind the crime. The report concludes that situations and immediate environment are factors that cause crime recurrence, and can be used in crime prevention. It based its argument on various case studies of crimes.

US Department of Justice (2014). Today’s FBI: Facts and Figures 2013-2014. Washington DC, Federal Bureau of Investigation.

This report gives the overview of FBI, one of the global crime intelligence, investigative and crime prevention unit. It serves the purpose of investigating crimes and enforcing laws. The document provides key statistics on the unit’s achievement, manpower development, leadership structure and geographical coverage. More importantly, it explores the crime environment in the US and globally in different time periods, as well as initiatives put across by the unit and the government in curbing crimes. It also points out some of the criminology theories behinds most of the contemporary crimes such as cybercrime and corruption and vices put in place to curb them. The report’s main strength is the facts and figures it portrays that are important in understanding global crime dynamics.

Landau, E. (2011). More on the criminal brain: Nurture v. nature. Retrieved 3 July 2015. http://thechart.blogs.cnn.com/2011/02/28/more-on-the-criminal-brain-nature-vs-nurture/

In this CNN article, the author raises a fundamental question on criminology; whether it is a product of nature or nurture. The article raises the fundamental question of the role of parenting, genetics and biological influences on criminology, and the strength of these aspects compared to the individual’s environment and social circles. Some studies establish that people react according to their immediate environment; as such criminology mind is developed from the environment in which one grows. On the contrary, other researchers have established that poor parenting and insufficient parental guidance is the main cause of criminology behavior. This article gives a balanced debate on the two sides and leaves the reader to make his conclusion.

Lott, J. (2015). There is no nationwide crime wave. Retrieved 3 July 2015 from http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2015/06/09/there-is-no-nationwide-crime-wave-and-police-killings-are-not-up.html

In this Fox News article, the author explores the trend of criminology in the US. The article reveals a slight drop in violent crimes and murder in the US large cities, concluding that there is no national wide wave of murder. However, the degree of change varies with the city. Some cities have seen an increase in murder and violent crimes in the last one year. The research notes that it is difficult to draw a string conclusion of the factors causing increasing or decreasing crime in the US in the recent past. However, factors such as police inefficiency have contributed significantly to the rise in crimes. The article also portrays bias in police reporting that leads to misleading information of crime dynamics in the US.

Cohen, P. (2011). Genetics basics for crime: A new look. Retrieved 3 July 2015 from http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/20/arts/genetics-and-crime-at-institute-of-justice-conference.html?_r=1

            In this NewYork Time article, the author establishes a shift from genetics and biology to social issues as the major causes of crimes. The article points out that accessibility to firearms, desperation, revenge and corrosive addiction are some of the major causes of crimes; while matters to do with nurture only contribute to a minimal extent to the crimes. The author notes that there are no crime genes, rather traits and behaviors are developed as the child grows. The social and economic environment where the child grows plays a key role in shaping these behaviors for good or for worse. It is, therefore, important for parents to be aware of the environment in which they are raising their children.

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